Friday, December 28, 2007
[Me and Susan Taylor, circa 2002-03]
I can't front, I've been more of a critic than fan of Essence magazine. Sad, but I'm not afraid to say its mostly been over petty shit that did nothing but expose underlying insecurities that I may not have been aware of. I wouldn't say that I would just be angered or set off by some of the things I saw in the magazine, no, most of the time it would just be shit I'd laugh and say "hell nawl" to.
You know, like those articles they'd have when they' tell their female readers: "100 Way How To Get A Man." "100 Ways To Keep A Man." "100 Reasons Why You Don't Have A Man." Most of the time I'd just look at those articles and be like "wrong, wrong, wrong." Like Dave Chappelle said, there aren't 100 ways to please any man, its pretty much 4 things: "Suck his ****, play with his balls, fix him a sandwich and don't talk so damn much."
I could go on and on about my gripes with a magazine that wasn't intended for me in the first place, but Jozen over at King-Mag.com pretty much hits all the nails on the head.
Anyways, I read that Susan L. Taylor was leaving the magazine next month. If you don't know her, she is pretty much the face of the magazine. I've gathered that to alot of Black women, Ms. Taylor is kinda held in the same regard as Oprah. Except Ms. Taylor is more low-key and appears (to me) to be more rooted in her community on a more consistent basis. Might as well say she is the "Black Oprah" if that makes any sense (it should if you feel what I'm saying).
When I read that she was leaving her post to focus more on her National Cares Mentoring Movement, I was happy for her, but saddened at the same time for some reason. I kinda felt like "damn, who are the sistahs gonna turn to after Ms. Taylor's In The Spirit column stops running?" Ever since Essence got bought out by Time Warner, people started worrying that they might go out like BET. They seem to have done a decent job in staying on course (outside of that loud-ass Suede magazine). But, with the woman who put the mag on the map and tried to keep its "Black Woman's Bible" title alive moving on, what now?
I mean, maybe I'm just tripping. Hell, I'm not even completely sure if women still read Essence like that anymore anyway. I guess I'm saying what I'm saying because I got a chance to meet Ms. Taylor about 4-5 years ago and she truly left an impression on me. She came down to Fort Valley State to give a lecture on using your college experience and degree to do more than just get a job. Although she was a woman and was pretty much expected to just give a lecture on women's issues, she spoke a bevy of things that both the men and women in the crowd could appreciate and apply to their lives.
Afterwards, she made herself available for photos, autographs and brief conversations. You can tell she was kinda tired but she still stayed until she shook every hand in the auditorium. By the time I got to her she had to have shook at least 50 hands. I didn't want to be a bother so I just shook her hand and kept it moving. But then, one of the professors who helped plan the lecture grabbed me by the jacket and demanded that I go back and really chop it up with her. So he took me back over there, formally introduced me to her and told her everything that I was doing at and for the school. She must have been impressed because she told the other folks in line to wait for a little bit and took out some time to talk to me and see what I was about.
I won't get into everything that we talked about or how she gave me her info but never responded to my calls or emails (its O.K., we're all busy people), but I will always remember her as a classy, serious, warm, stylish, intelligent, good smelling woman. Hopefully I'll cross paths with her again since her schedule seems to be a little lighter now.
Sorry for rambling, but, after reading that she was leaving, it just got me wondering. Granted, Ms. Taylor is leaving the magazine to really roll up her sleeves and get in the trenches doing much-needed community work, but I just wonder about the impact a voice like her's leaving a magazine like Essence can have. Especially when video hoes and calender models are becoming the most visible spokespeople for Black women. Hopefully Essence's young staff can keep it up. After all, as much as I'd disagree with some of what the magazine said, I'd be lying if I said it didn't have very informative and intriguing editorial besides the "How To Get A Man" nonsense. Much like women deserve to have a song like Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" amidst all the misogyny, women deserve to have Grade A reading material amidst the gossip mags and blogs out there.